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Paper read at Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, 
By Henry H. Crapo 
November, 1937 




No. 67 

In the Series of Sketches 
of New Bedford's Early History 

Collect sat 


The Old Dartmouth Historical Society traditionally ex- 
ploits the romance of whaling. Yet during one third only of 
the three hundred and more years of Old Dartmouth have whales 
played an important part in our lives. For the first hundred 
years, which unquestionably were the hardest, the pioneers, 
when not engaged in asserting their antagonistic religious creeds, 
were occupied in clearing the forests and cultivating a reluctant 
soil for their subsistence. Their wives and children were en- 
grossed, among other things, in spinning and weaving, by hand 
in their homes, wool and flax and other fibres for clothing and 
household use. It was during the next hundred years that Dart- 
mouth vexed the seas, chasing and killing whales, and furnishing 
the world with light. During the last one hundred years, roughly, 
the people of New Bedford have busied themselves in spinning 
and weaving cotton by machinery in factories for the use of 
the world at large. 

Without abandoning our allegiance to the royal mammal 
of the Ocean it is fitting we call to remembrance that other master 
of our destiny, — King Cotton. 


Cotton is obtained from the gossamer filament enveloping 
the seed of a plant indigenous in Southern India before the 
earliest days of recorded history, — long before Jonah made his 
intimate acquaintance with a whale. It is an annual plant, 
dying down in the autumn and planted from seed in the spring. 
Its flower is something like a mallow, cream turning to pink. 
The seed vessel, or boll, in which the snowy white fibre is tightly 
packed, is about the size of a walnut. 

This cotton fibre, once called "vegetable wool", has proved 
of astonishing importance in the social, economic, and political 
history of the modern world. Within the last few hundred 
years its manufacture into cloth and its distribution, have been 
controlling factors in the development of the British Empire 

and the prosperity of the United States. Cotton, in fact, has 
been vastly more important than whale oil in the human drama. 

Primitive man's first wants were food and protection 
against weather. The aboriginal man soon found that twisting 
fibres, either animal or vegetable, helped him in obtaining food, 
— by bow strings, cords, fish lines, etc. In this sense spinning 
was in use long before weaving. Then the women (I am sure 
it was women who were originally responsible for the textile 
industry) began to twist various strands of wool and flax and 
jute, — whatever they could find — , and weave them into nets, 
raiment, coverings, tents, and other conveniences for them- 
selves and their men folks. Wool and flax were, at first, the 
more available fibres. The use of cotton seems to have been 
due to a desire to create something luxurious and aesthetically 
satisfying. The arts of design, of colored patterns, of fine tex- 
tures, were certainly stimulated by the discovery that the fragile 
fibre of the cotton plant, and the cocoon webs of the silk worm, 
could be spun and woven into delicate cloth. 

For thirty centuries the cotton plant has been grown in 
Southern India, and its fibre used for textiles. Persians, and 
other Eastern peoples, at an early date, decorated cotton fabrics 
with elaborate designs. No doubt fine India muslins were early 
imported into Egypt, where the main textile crop was flax grown 
on the Delta and along the river shores of the Nile. Most of 
the exquisite fabrics found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians 
are of linen. Slowly, however, and apparently in defiance of 
religious taboos, (no doubt founded on economic reasons), the 
Egyptians, several centuries before Christ, discovered their soil 
and climate were especially available for the cultivation of the 
cotton plant. Egyptian cotton, because of its long staple, has 
been one of the most desirable cottons of the world. Because 
of its restricted areas of cultivation, and short seasons, the 
supply has been limited. 

It is somewhat astonishing that the very earliest specimens 
of highly wrought and decorated cotton textiles are of Peru- 
vian origin. Centuries before Columbus discovered America 
cotton was grown in Peru, Chili, Mexico, and the islands of the 
Caribbean Sea. This fact raises an interesting speculation whether 
the cotton plant was indeed indigenous in South America, or 
whether it was brought across the Pacific Ocean from India. 
If, indeed, the cotton seed was brought from India, it is one of 

the many indications that the early civilization of the Americas 
was derived from Asia. 

The knowledge of cotton was slow in penetrating modern 
Europe. Alexander the Great brought it to Greece. The 
Phoenicians and others carried the fabrics to Italy and Spain 
many years before the Christian era. When Columbus, in 
1492, discovered what he supposed was India, he found the 
natives using cotton cloth, and took back to Spain specimens of 
cotton boll as evidence that he had, indeed, reached India. He 
little knew that in those seed vessels was potential wealth im- 
measurably exceeding all the treasures of gold and precious 
jewels which Spain subsequently extracted from the western 

When Cortes conquered Mexico (H19) he sent back to 
his emperor, Charles V. "cotton mantles, some all white, others 
mixed with white and black or red, green, yellow and blue; 
waist-coats, handkerchiefs, counterpanes, tapestries, and carpets 
of cotton." The royal robes of Montezuma and of the Incas 
were of cotton dyed and studded with jewels. Yet it was not 
cotton the Spaniards craved. With their destruction of the 
civilization of the Aztecs and Incas the high cultivation and the 
fine weaving of cotton ceased. The plant, however, continued 
to grow wild in South America, Mexico and the West Indies, 
and, to some extent, was used by the natives for coarse cloths. 
For two and a half centuries and more after Columbus it is 
doubtful whether cotton was indigenous or cultivated to any 
extent in any part of the territory now included in the United 
States, although cotton cloth was not entirely unknown to some 
of the North American Indians. 

It was, indeed, not until shortly before the American Revo- 
lution that cotton was actively cultivated in what are now our 
Southern States. Certain planters in Virginia, grown rich by 
the cultivation of tobacco, had used cotton bushes in their elab- 
orate gardens as decorative shrubs. Gradually cotton was raised 
in Georgia and the Carolinas as a subsidiary crop. Not until 
the nineteenth century did our Southern States become far and 
away the greatest producers of raw cotton in the world, supply- 
ing England and all other countries with the fibre which had 
then become all important in the commerce and industry of 

India, Egypt and, finally to a greater extent, the Southern 
States of the United States, became and still are the important 

producers of cotton, although a number of other localities have 
instituted and in some degree succeeded in raising the plant. 
There are various varieties of cotton, usually classified by the 
staple length of the fibre. Egyptian cotton is of the longer staple, 
and the Sea Island cotton, once grown abundantly off the coasts 
of Georgia and Florida, and now, to some extent elsewhere in 
our Southern States, is also of high grade. It is the long staple 
cotton, desirable for the finer weaves of goods, which, during 
the last half century has been the type largely used in New 
Bedford mills. 

The man who, above all others, is responsible for the 
amazing increase in the world's use of raw cotton was a Yankee 
named Eli Whitney, born in Westboro, Massachusetts, in 1765. 
Graduating at Yale College he obtained a position as tutor in 
Georgia. Visiting the family of the widow of General Nathaniel 
Green, of Revolutionary fame, he happened to be present at a 
dinner company, perhaps on Cumberland Island, where certain 
planters were discussing the intolerably slow process of ex- 
tracting the seeds from the cotton fibre by hand, as had, of 
course, always been done from the earliest days. Mrs. Green 
(who had married Phineas Miller, a college chum of Whitney's) 
said: "Mr. Whitney, why don't you get up something to do the 
work? You seem able to do anything!" Whitney replied: "As 
for cleaning cotton seed, I shouldn't know it if I saw it." The 
next day, however, he watched cotton being separated from the 
bolls by the sweating slaves, and soon went to work in earnest. 

This story, I fear, may be somewhat apocryphal, certainly 
as to the conversation, and possibly as to the locus. At all 
events it was my privilege, last Spring, to visit Cumberland 
Island and stand on the site of General Green's mansion, now 
torn down, where it is said Whitney received his inspiration. 
Nearby still stands the low tabby building which General Green 
vised as an Office, and which, very likely, Whitney used for ex- 
perimental drafting. In the days of General Green, and for 
half a century later, more than one thousand slaves cultivated 
"Sea Island cotton" on Cumberland Island, now covered with 
pitch pine forests and semitropical vegetation. 

Eli Whitney did, in fact, devise a machine called a saw-gin 
("gin" is merely a colloquial abbreviation of en-gin (e) ). The 
result was incredibly revolutionary. A single gin had the 
capacity of three thousand pair of hands in separating the fibre 
from the seeds. In 1792, before the invention of the gin, the 

United States exported only 130,000 lbs. of cotton. In 1810, 
only a few years after the invention, 3 5,000,000 lbs. were ex- 
ported. The maximum production of raw cotton in the United 
States has since exceeded 5,000,000,000 lbs. forming the most 
valuable money crop of the country. 

Whitney obtained a patent in 1794, signed by George Wash- 
ington in Philadelphia. As so often is the case with inventors 
Whitney derived no adequate pecuniary reward for his epoch 
making contrivance, which so immensely stimulated the culti- 
vation and production of cotton in our Southern States, bring- 
ing vast wealth to the planters, and largely contributing to the 
secession of those States from the Union in 1862. 

Within a year or two there has been found in Wilkes 
County, Georgia, an original hand driven Whitney cotton gin. 
Mr. Victor S. Dupres, who now lives on the old Eli Whitney farm 
in Westboro, has interested himself in obtaining this machine 
together with the old gin-house in which it was used one hun- 
dred and forty years ago, for the purpose of bringing it to 
Massachusetts as a memorial to the man who so largely contrib- 
uted to the feasibility of the New England cotton industry. 
Mr. Dupres sent me a photograph of this machine which is now 
in our Museum. 


The crude implements used by the Hindoos in spinning and 
weaving cotton, modified and improved as time went on, yet 
not essentially changed, continued in use for many centuries in 
Asia, Africa, and Europe. The hand turned spinning wheel, 
and the common hand loom, practically similar to those used 
by the housewives of Old Dartmouth in the eighteenth century 
(now on exhibition in our Colonial Museum) were the univer- 
sal implements, and, indeed, to some extent, are still used all the 
world over. 

It was during the latter half of the eighteenth century 
that, through the ingenuity and enterprise of Englishmen, 
machines were invented, operated by steam or water power, 
which transformed the manufacture of cotton textiles from a 
manual into a mechanical process, and revolutionized the social 
and the political life of England, and later of the United States. 

"The factory system has not, perhaps, produced better fabrics, 
but it has produced them more quickly, more easily, and in 
vaster greater quantity." It is only in very modern times that 
attempts have been made to excel the fine weaves and the in- 
comparable designs of Oriental and Peruvian hand products. 

A brief enumeration of some of these mechanical inventions 
which caused the "English Industrial Revolution" is: — 1710. 
James Hargreaves, the spinning jenny; — 1738. John Kay 
the fly shuttle; — 1768. Richard Arkwright, the spinning 
frame; — 1779. Samuel Crompton, the mule; — 1786. Ed- 
mund Cartwright, the power loom. In reference to the last 
named invention it is interesting that Mr. Cartwright was a 
minister of the gospel, in no way trained to the practical art of 
weaving. This is another illustration of the numerous remark- 
able inventions which have been evolved by men who were 
strangers to the industry involved. 

It was some years later, in 1804, that Joseph Marie Jacquard 
of France, invented the loom which is still designated by his 
name. Napoleon Bonaparte hearing of this invention sent for 
Jacquard and asked him: "Are you the man who can do what 
God Almighty can not, — tie a knot in a taut string?" To 
which Jacquard replied: "I can not do what God cannot, but 
what God has taught me to do." The loom was, originally, ar- 
ranged with weighted strings passing over a pulley and falling 
into perforated cards. Each motion changed the position of the 
strings, allowing some to go through the holes and draw up the 
warp thread so it was skipped, while others struck the cards 
and left the strands in place to be woven by the shuttle. In 
this way the weaver could pass his thread over, under, or through 
the warp as required by the design of the perforated cards. It 
was the first efficient machine to do elaborate design weaving. 
As has been often the case the opposition of labor was so great 
that the loom was destroyed by fire in public places, and Jac- 
quard compelled to flee for his life from France. In New Bed- 
ford, which in the last quarter of the last century turned 
to "fine goods" and "fancies" the modernized cotton Jacquard 
loom has been largely used. 

There naturally have been innumerable inventions and im- 
provements of cotton power machinery. I mention only two. 
In 1831 John Sharp of Providence improved the spindle by a 

ring device. In 1888 George Draper and Sons of Hopedale, 
Massachusetts, developed a highly efficient power loom, now 
known as the "Draper Automatic Loom" with which many of 
our New Bedford mills are equipped. 

PRIOR TO 1845 

The art of hand spinning and weaving wool, flax, and cot- 
ton was known to many of the first settlers of New England, 
and its practice encouraged for the common good. In 1640 the 
General Court of Massachusetts ordered a survey of spinning 
and weaving, seeking a method of teaching the boys and girls 
of all towns. In 165 6 the Court ordered the Selectmen in every 
town "to turn women, boys, and girls towards weaving" and 
decreed that every family in the colony must produce a fixed 
quota of yarn and cloth, or suffer a fine for failure. 

Before the American Revolution such cotton as was used 
came from the West Indies, and practically all finished cloths, 
not wrought on household looms, were imported. It was the 
deliberate policy of the English Government to suppress manu- 
factures of whatever kind in its colonies. With the advent of 
the stamp act and the secession of the colonies from the mother 
country, the manufacture of cloth on this side of the Atlantic 
Ocean sprang into being. Co-operative spinning and weaving 
was started in Rowley and Ipswich, Massachusetts, and in the 
South as well. A tentative "cotton factory" was started in 
Beverley, Massachusetts in 1787. In 1789 George Washington 
visited this mill and highly approved the enterprise. The mill, 
however, was not successful yet it actually made cotton goods 
by machinery before the more famous Slater Mill at Pawtucket. 

In 1789 Samuel Slater, who may fairly be called the "Fath- 
er of the Cotton Industry in the United States" came to Rhode 
Island. He was born in Belper, Derbyshire, England in 1768. 
He had worked for Arkwright. He interested Moses Brown and 
William Almy, men of prominence in Providence, to enable him 
to build cotton machinery and established a factory at Paw- 
tucket. In 1790 the mill was operating. It was, at first, exclu- 
sively a spinning mill, the yarn being sold throughout New 
England to "cottage weavers." "The old Slater Mill',' of which 
Rhode Island is immensely proud, still stands on the bank of the 
rushing Blackstone River, — now a museum. 

Within a few years many small cotton mills were built in 
New England and the Southern States. During the next two 
decades a few larger mills were attempted in New England. The 
fever struck Fall River, then called Troy Village. The Durfees 
and the Bordens were moving spirits. The Troy Manufacturing 
Company was organized in 1817. Soon other mills were suc- 
cessfully operated by the marvelous waterpower of the river. 
By 1833 there were thirteen mills in Fall River with 40,000 
spindles. Some of the surplus capital of New Bedford was in- 
vested in these mills. The Rodmans and Robesons were actively 
interested. Other, and larger, mills were started in Lowell, 
Manchester, Lancaster, and other New England cities. During 
the first half of the nineteenth century the manufacture of cot- 
ton cloth, both in the Northern and the Southern States, be- 
came one of the most important industries of the United States. 


Old Dartmouth was slow in paying obeisance to King Cot- 
ton. So long as whale oil and whale bone were supremely re- 
munerative the royal Leviathan of the Sea held us in sway. Why, 
indeed, should we have turned to such a super-antiquated and 
prosaic source of revenue as the manipulation of cotton fibre? 
The whale fishery completely dominated the town. Before 1845 
there were no "factories" of any kind in Old Dartmouth, save 
grist mills, a small woolen mill in Acushnet, a small iron factory, 
called the Gosnold Mill on the river, and sundry industries 
directly connected with whaling, such as ship building, spar 
making, rope twisting, cordage, cooperage, sail making, out- 
fitters supplies, candle works etc., etc. Surplus capital of 
our merchants was apt to be invested outside of Dartmouth, in 
maritime or commercial enterprises, or the new fangled steam 
railroads, or iron and nail factories. 

A few months ago, dismantling the residence of Captain 
Joseph C. Delano, a letter addressed to the Captain by George 
Randall, dated February 15, 1847, was found. Mr. Randall the 
owner, or part owner, of Fish Island, set this forth a proposal to 
"improve the north side of the Island — this spot," he wrote 
"will possess advantages equal, if not superior, to anything in the 
United States for driving machinery by steam — My present 
opinion is that a large iron manufactury, and one for cotton 

duck, would be very desirable and profitable." Clearly cotton 
was subordinate to iron. Mr. Randall's dreams did not mater- 
ialize. The manufacture of iron, or, indeed, of cotton duck were 
not destined to be developed in New Bedford. As to the north 
part of Fish Island it is today, nearly a hundred years later, still 
largely devoted to oil, — but not of whales. 

Samuel Rodman may, perhaps, be called the "Father of the 
New Bedford Cotton Industry". In 1845 he conceived the 
idea of establishing a cotton mill here. On February 30, 1846, 
some two months before the speculative incorporation of the 
Wamsutta Mills, the Massachusetts General Court incorporated 
Samuel Rodman, Alden G. Snell, William R. Rotch and their 
associates and successors under the name of the "New Bedford 
Steam Mill Company" for the purpose of manufacturing "cot- 
ton goods and the grinding of corn," limiting the capital to 
$160,000. The mill, under the superintendence of Alden G. 
Snell, was built on Rodman's wharf near the foot of Hillman 
Street. It commenced operating in November 1846, more than 
two years before the Wamsutta Mills was in effective opera- 
tion. In 1849, according to the New Bedford Directory, the 
"Steam Mills" ran 7,500 spindles and turned out 25,000 yards 
of 39 inch sheeting per week." 

In his incomparable diary Mr. Rodman noted in detail his 
absorption in the construction of the Steam Mill and the dif- 
ficulties of its operation which were evidently baffling, due to 
disputes about wages, insufficient capital and, as he believed, a 
lack of efficiency of his selling agents in Boston. In the end 
the operation became too onerous for Mr. Rodman and in 1852 
it was decided to discontinue it, the machinery being moved to 
the "Shaker's Mill" at Shirley. 

Yet the impulse to manufacture cotton in New Bedford 
was in the air soon after 1840. Abraham Howland, Joseph C. 
Delano and Henry T. Wood as early as 1846 conceived the idea of 
a cotton manufacturing enterprise to be called the "Wamsutta 
Mills". A charter was obtained April 9th, 1846 by Mr. How- 
land then a member of the General Court. The incorporators 
were named as Jireh Perry, Matthew Luce, Thomas S. Hathaway, 
and their associates. The charter enabled the corporation to 
manufacture cotton, wool, or iron. Mr. Howland, however, 
found his fellow citizens cautious about going into such a new 
and untried industry. The enerprise la^ 

In 1840 Dwight Perry of Fairhaven went to Georgia where 
he operated a small cotton mill. He had in his employ another 
fairhaven youngster — Thomas Bennett. Bennett became en- 
thusiastic about cotton manufacturing and, returning to New 
Bedford, induced William T. Russell to go with him to Georgia 
for the purpose of there establishing a mill fostered by New 
Bedford capital. The plan appearing to the promoters feasible, 
Joseph Grinnell, far and away the most progressive merchant in 
New Bedford, was consulted. Mr. Grinnell had been in the 
India and China trade in New York. He was a banker. He was 
a member of the Congress of the United States. He had vision 
and was singularly alive to the ever changing impulses of the 
world about him. He had already been responsible for the 
steam railroad to Taunton which opened New Bedford to the 
world — by land. He was a Quaker. He was not impulsive. 
After careful consideration he decided to sponsor a cotton mill, 
but only on condition it be established, not in the South, but in 
New Bedford, where the investors could watch it. 

The public opinion of New Bedford was strongly against 
"corporations" of any kind. The mechanics were especially 
against a "factory" because "organized and disciplined labor and 
longer hours of mill work were inimical to the labor interests". 
It would, manifestly, be necessary to import trained overseers 
and operatives to the detriment of the natives. The merchants, 
also, still engrossed in the whaling industry, were disinclined to 
embark on such a hazardous voyage as cotton manufacturing. 

Mr. Grinnell headed the list of subscribers for the new mill 
with $10,000, yet it was with great difficulty that only $160,000 
could be raised, mostly in small subscriptions. The speculative 
charter, with the name "Wamsutta Mills", obtained by Abraham 
Howland, was taken over. Joseph Grinnelll was made President, 
and so continued for nearly twenty years. Thomas Bennett, 
to whom Mr. Grinnell graciously gave the credit for the eventual 
success of the mill, was made "Agent and Engineer", and so acted 
for twenty-seven years. Edward L. Baker who had been largely 
responsible for obtaining reluctant subscriptions was made Treas- 

The original plans called for a mill of 16,000 spindles and 
200 looms. In 1853 a second mill was started. Finally there 
were eight mills having a maximum of 236,000 spindles and 
7,300 looms, constituting one of the largest cotton units in the 
United States. The quality of its products have been appreciated 

in many parts of the world. Our grandmothers, and, I dare say, 
our granddaughters, have considered "Wamsutta Sheets" of 
supreme excellence. 

In view of the fact that the Wamsutta Mills was highly 
successful, having paid in the first twenty-five years dividends 
over 300' , of its capital, and in view of the fact that the whale 
fishery continued to decline after the Civil War, it now seems 
curious that for more than a quarter of a century no other cot- 
ton mill was established in New Bedford. 

It was in 1871 the "Potomska Mills" was built, Edward and 
Hiram Kilburn and Andrew G. Pierce, Senior, being actively 

In November 1881 came the "Acushnet Mills", Joseph F. 
Knowles and Horatio Hathaway being the leading spirits. 

In March 1882 the "Grinnell Manufacturing Corporation" 
was organized, Edward Kilburn and Otis N. Pierce, President 
and Treasurer. 

In 1882 the "New Bedford Manufacturing Co." came into 
existence, William D. Howland being the promoter and execu- 
tive head. Later in 1888 Mr. Howland organized the "How- 
land Manufacturing Company" (subsequently the Gosnold 

In 1888 the "City Manufacturing Co." was started with 
Otis N. Pierce as President. In the same year the "Hathaway 
Manufacturing Co.", under the leadership of Joseph F. Knowles 
and Horatio Hathaway came into existence. 

In 1889 Frank R. Hadley, Henry Holcomb and others 
built the "Bennett Mills" and subsequently the "Columbia". 
These were spinning mills. 

In 1892 the "Pierce Manufacturing Company" was estab- 
lished by Andrew G. Pierce, Jr. In the same year the "Bristol" 
with Thomas H. Knowles as President and Benjamin Wilcox as 
Treasurer. Also the same year the "Rotch Spinning Company" 
(subsequently the Passaic Cotton Mills) under practically the 
same management as the Howland Mills. 

In 188 5 the "Dartmouth Mills" was promoted through the 
efforts of Abbott P. Smith and Rufus A. Soule. In later years 
this mill came under the successful management of Walter H. 

In 1895 Messrs. Harding and Whitman of Boston established 
the "Whitman Mill". This was the first of our cotton mills to 
be promoted by other than New Bedford Citizens. 

In 1896 the "Beacon Mills" under the management of 
Charles D. Owen and Charles O. Dexter of Providence, Rhode 
Island, was organized and made cotton blankets and other 

In 1902 the "Butler Mills", named for William M. Butler, 
and the "Soule Mill", named for Rufus A. Soule, were estab- 
lished. Abbott P. Smith was the promoter. 

In 1903 the "Manomet Mills" were built by the Harding- 
Whitman interests, Charles M. Holmes being the Agent. 

In 1904 the "Kilburn Mill", a spinning mill, was organized 
under the management of Henry L. Tiffany. 

In 1906 the "Taber Mill" was built under the leadership of 
Frederick Taber, his son Frederick H. Taber, Rufus Soule, Abbott 
P. Smith and others. 

In 1906 the "Nonquitt Spinning Mill" was established by 
Willliam Whitman. In the same year was organized the "Page 
Mill" under the leadership of John W. Knowles. 

In 1909 the "Nashawena Mills" was started by William 
Whitman, the "Pierce Bros. Limited" by Andrew, Edward and 
Albert Pierce, and the "New Bedford Cotton Mill" of which 
William M. Butler was President and James O. Thompson Agent. 

In 1910 five more mills were built. The "Holmes Mill", a 
Harding project, Charles M. Holmes being the manager; The 
"Booth Mill", Charles E. Riley, President, and George H. Booth 
Treasurer; The "Neild Manufacturing Co." by John Neild and 
Joseph W. Allen; The "Quissett Mill", promoted by Abbott P. 
Smith, William M. Butler being President, Thomas F. Glennon 
and Edward H. Cook being actively interested; The "Sharp 
Mills" established by Arthur R. Sharp of Providence, Robert 
Schofield being manager. 

Since 1910 no additional mills have been constructed, al- 
though extensions and improvements have, in some cases, been 
made. Several of the older mills have been torn down. Some 
now carry new names. A number have been acquired by inter- 
ests outside New Bedford and operated for various forms of 
industry other than the production of cotton cloth. 

There was one interlude in the history of our cotton in- 
dustry which had far reaching effects. In 1898 after the fail- 
ure to make good of most of our then existing yarn mills, Kid- 
der Peabody and Company, a Boston firm of bankers, under the 
guidance of Robert Winsor, purchased the control of a number 
of these mills, as well as a few located elsewhere, and organized 
the New England Cotton Yarn Co., as a holding company. 
Henry C. Sibley was Treasurer and Arthur Sharp General 
Manager. During the earlier stages of this enterprise several 
New Bedford men were connectd with it, Andrew G. Pierce, 
Jr., Joseph F. Knowles, James E. Stanton, Jr., Thomas F. Glen- 
non, Frank H. Gifford and others. The entire management 
finally was in the hands of F. Buckley Smith of Worcester. For 
some years the general office of the Company was in the room 
in which we are now assembled. The enterprise was a failure and 
the several mills were sold, one by one, and, for the most part, 
converted into cloth mills. 

Our mills were at first built near tide water, utilizing the 
salt water for condensing purposes. The average high humidity 
of the Buzzards Bay atmosphere does not appear to have been a 
controlling factor in the original development of our cotton 
industry, although it became an important influence in stimul- 
ating the subsequent growth of the business. Mechanical hu- 
midifiers have largely nullified this natural advantage. 

In the early days each mill was surrounded by a village 
maintained by the mill where the operatives lived. Young girls 
from neighboring farms were employed working ten to twelve 
hours a day, and boarded and cared for in mill boarding houses. 

Most of our earlier cotton mills were designed to receive 
raw cotton, cleaning, combing, and spinning it into yarn of 
various degrees of fineness, and weaving the yarn into a great 
variety of cloth "in the grey". The mills generally were planned 
as complete co-ordinated units. In the early days the woven 
grey goods were mostly "plain" goods, such as sheetings, shirt- 
ings, calicos, and the like. About 1876 "fine" goods for ladies 
wear, curtains, and other "fancies" were featured. A few mills 
specialized in yarn production alone. The grey goods were sold 
to "converters", or directly to wholesale buyers, who ordered 
them sent elsewhere for "finishing", that is to say, bleaching, 
dyeing, printing, mercerizing, or other manipulation, trans- 
forming them into finished products for final distribution to the 
ultimate consumers. In New Bedford there have been no con- 

siderable attempts to "finish" goods. However, the Mount 
Hope Finishing Company, situated in North Dighton (1901), 
(because of chemically pure water), was organized by Joseph 
F. Knowles, and has since been owned and operated by New 
Bedford men, under the highly successful management of Joseph 
K. Milliken, a nephew of Mr. Knowles. The "finishing" of cot- 
ton goods is a story by itself. 

In the above cursory enumeration of the cotton mills of 
New Bedford no attempt is made to tell their individual his- 
tories, their several noteworthy accomplishments, the multiplicity 
of their products, their outstanding successes and vicissitudes, 
or the dramatic stories of the men who conceived and directed 
them. The struggles, the changing viewpoints, the hopes un- 
realized, the tragedies involved, would make a thrilling saga of 
this Old Dartmouth town. To do justice to such a subject many 
folios would be required. 

Forty years ago Thomas B. Reed said of New Bedford — 
"If it's sturdv people could no longer roam the seas conquering 
its hugest monster, they could make the spindles whirl with 
successful life on shore. The Earth has got to be very shifty to 
get out of the grasp of a people equally at home on land and 
water." Our spindles have since whirled and our looms woven 
with such skill and in such volume, that New Bedford became the 
third largest cotton city of the country, and admittedly the lead- 
ing centre of the fine goods manufacturing. 

At the height of the prosperity of our cotton industry, 
about the year 1920, there were in New Bedford, twenty-eight 
cotton establishments, operating seventy mills, having 3,594,138 
spindles, 5 5,679 looms, and employing 41,3 80 operatives. Our 
neighbor Fall River was a close rival. Bristol County, as a 
whole, was by far the largest producer of cotton goods of any 
locality of the same area in the United States. During the hectic 
prosperity of the World War period both wages and dividends 
soared to unprecedented heights. 

Then came the debacle. We crashed from our pinnacle in 
company with most of the cotton mills in New England. The 
loss in spindles in the country at large has been nearly 50', ; the 
value of the products 30 r t ; with, of course, a corresponding de- 
crease in the return of our wage earners and a very much greater 
proportionate loss in dividends to the stockholders. Many mills 

throughout New England were forced into bankruptcy, liquid- 
ated, and torn down. 

The cause of this downfall was not solely due to the world's 
"hang-over" from the orgy of the Great War, a condition which 
has come to be known as the "Great Depression". For some years 
previous to the War there had been in the United States a pro- 
duction of cotton goods in excess of the remunerative demand. 
So far as New England is concerned the old bugbear of Southern 
competition ceased to be an obsession and became a distressing 
reality. As a matter of fact the North had again invaded the 
South, not as it did in 1862 with bayonets and cannon, but with 
spindles and looms. Between 1921 and 1933 there was a de- 
crease in the square yard production of purely cotton goods (of 
over twelve inches in width) in New England of 43',, and an 
increase in the cotton growing states of 77' , , the increase for 
the whole country being only 17' , . 

In New Bedford we now have only 30, instead of 70, mills; 
17 establishments instead of 28; 66', less spindles, 5 5 '", less 
looms, and the number of our operatives has decreased 66 % . 
The nominal capital of the mills has decreased 64' , and the mar- 
ket value of the capital stock egregiously more. 

The loss of property and the consequent means of livelihood 
of our citizens has been devastating. It involved the loss of 
wages of the operatives of the cotton mills and the wages of all 
other workers, and the loss of income to thousands of our people 
who had invested their savings in the stock of our mills. To at- 
tempt to minimize this withering loss is futile. For not a few 
of our people their life savings, their thrift, their hope of a rea- 
sonable support to make old age independent of charity, have 
"gone with the wind". 

And yet there are indications of a rosier tomorrow. 

"For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, 
And, though a late, a sure reward succeeds." 

During the last decade the population of the country has 
increased out of proportion to the manufacture of cotton goods. 
We may, perhaps, hope for a return of a better economic balance 
in general business conditions. If so it is reasonable to expect this 
increased population will call for cotton cloth, or fabrics of 
which cotton is the base. Then, too, there is the somewhat heart- 
less consolation that "in the ruthless process of the survival of 

the fittest the position of the remaining mills has been greatly 
fortified". At all events we have, fortunately, sustained no 
such devastating tragedy as the discovery of petroleum oil 
which once laid us low. We may still believe that the "shifty" 
earth, as Tom Reed termed it, will not get out of our grasp. 

Another, even more important, element in King Cotton's 
set back has been the innate tendency of human beings to in- 
vent new needs. For instance, the ladies, who, after all, are the 
final arbiters of business, saw fit to spurn cotton as raiment. 
In their affluence they turned to silk. With less expansive times 
they turned to "artificial silk" now called "rayon". During the 
last decade there has been, in this country, a considerable pro- 
duction of this new fibre. In 1923 there were 2 5,000 rayon 
looms. In 193 3 there were 47,000 rayon looms, of which more 
than half were in New England. Today, doubtless, there are 
many more. 

Rayon, a word of American origin, in England called "ar- 
tificial silk", is a synthetic glossy fibre made by forcing at high 
pressure a viscous solution of cellulose through minute holes. 
Cellulose is obtained from the cell walls of woody shrubs and 
trees. So extensively have several of our remaining New Bed- 
ford mills turned to rayon, used in combination with cotton, 
that they can hardly any longer properly be called "cotton" 
mills. It would almost seem that King Cotton has, at least here- 
abouts, taken a consort to enhance his ascendency. Surely he has 
not abdicated, nor is his throne in jeopardy. New objectives, 
new methods, new ministers, will preserve the dynasty. The 
lately invented mechanical cotton picker may yet vie with Eli 
Whitney's gin. — If the ladies no longer want voluminous skirts 
and petticoats, The King can furnish miles of fabric for the con- 
struction of state highways, and automobile tires for every man, 
woman and child in the country. It seems we may reasonably 
expect that the fragile gossamer enveloping the seed of the ages- 
old cotton plant will still continue to wield its potent sway. 


relating to New Bedford 

Prepared by 

Edgar F. Taber, Jr. 


Note. The word "Manager" is used, in most cases, to designate the Executive 
Head of the mill to avoid the confusion of the various titles of Agent, Super- 
intendent, Treasurer or President. 


Inc. Feb. 3, 1846 

Formed shortly before the Wamsutta, the N. B. Steam Co. 
was the first cotton mill in the city. It was located near the foot 
of Hillman St. President George Hussey, treasurer Samuel 
Rodman, manager Alden G. Snell; Bethnel Penniman, Thomas 
C. Allen, William R. Rotch were additional directors. The 
capacity of the mill was 7,5 00 spindles. Its capital was limited 
to $100,000 not all paid in. The mill was not successful, and was 
discontinued in 18 52. The corporation was not formally dis- 
solved, however, until 1931. 


Inc. April 8, 1846 

Maximum capital $6,000,000 
spindles 227,000 

looms 3,427 

operatives 2,400 

Joseph Grinnell was first president. Edward L. Baker first 
treasurer, with David R. Greene, Thomas Mandell, Joseph C. 
Delano, Pardon Tillinghast and Thomas Bennett Jr. directors. 
The success of the mill may be in large part attributed to the 
genius of Mr. Bennett, for many years manager. Under his 
management additions were built in 1854-55, 1865, and 1870. 
Subsequent managers included Edward Kilburn, Edward R. 
Milliken, William J. Kent, Andrew G. Pierce, Edward T. Pierce, 
Arthur L. Emery, William O. Buzzell and Charles F. Broughton. 
On April 6, 1924 the Wamsutta suffered the worst mill fire in 
the city's history. The Wamsutta is still operating after 90 
years, although part of the original mill, no. 1, was leased in 
193 5 to the Narragansett Shirt Co. 


Inc. 1871 

Maximum capital $1,800,000 
spindles 117,100 

looms 2,824 

operatives 1,200 

James Robinson was first president and treasurer of the 
Potomska, with the following directors: David S. Wood, clerk; 
William J. Rotch, Charles L. Wood, Andrew G. Pierce, Matthew 
Howland, William Watkins, and Henry F. Thayer. Operations 
were begun in 1873. Original capital was $600,000, increased 
to $1,200,000 when a second unit was added in 1877. Hiram 
Kilburn was manager until 1884, when he was succeeded by 
Manly U. Adams. Other managers have been William O. Devoll, 
Charles E. Brady, Francis O. McDevitt, and Willliam O. Buzzell. 

The Potomska was sold to the Potomska Corporation, a 
subsidary of General Cotton, for liquidation, on Dec. 13, 1934. 
In 1 93 S the land and buildings were taken by the city for taxes, 
and the buildings were demolished as a WPA project in 1935-36. 


Inc. Dec. 22, 1881 

Maximum capital $2,000,000 
spindles 114,240 

looms 3,5 34 

operatives 1,45 

The Acushnet was organized in 1881 with Horatio Hath- 
away as president, and Joseph F. Knowles manager. Other mem- 
bers of the board of directors were Jonathan Bourne, William 
W. Crapo, Thomas H. Knowles, William A. Robinson, Francis 
Hathaway, Loum Snow Jr., Gilbert Allen, and Thomas E. 
Brayton. The mill building, located on the waterfront north 
of Cove Road, was completed in 1883 and operations were be- 
gun in that year. A second mill was built in 1887. Subse- 
quent managers included Robert H. Bartlett, J. F. Knowles Jr. 
and James E. Stanton Jr. On Feb. 27, 1897 the mill was the 
scene of the worst boiler explosion in the history of the city, 
when two men were killed and others injured. Although the 
mill was modernized in the 20's, on Nov. 21, 1929 the directors 
voted to liquidate. After the machinery had been sold, on March 
6, 1931 the contract was awarded to tear down the building. 
The final liquidating dividend was paid March 8, 1932. 


Inc. March 14, 1882 

Maximum capital $1,500,000 
looms 126,000 

spindles 3,13 5 

operatives 1,000 

Edward Kilburn was original president of the Grinnell, 
with Otis N. Pierce, treasurer, Wm. J. Kent, manager, and James 
W. Allen, bookkeeper. Other directors included Stephen A. 
Jenks, William F. Draper, Thomas M. Stetson, Joseph A. Beau- 
vais, Andrew G. Pierce, Thomas B. Wilcox, John W. Macumber, 
Charles W. Plummer, and Horatio Hathaway. Subsequent man- 
agers included N. B. Kerr, Joseph W. Webster, Treas. and Fred 
Steele. Liquidation of the Grinnell was voted Jan. 7, 1927. 
Part of the property was sold to the Revere Copper and Brass, 
Inc. The remainder was sold to William Rocklin for dismant- 


Inc. 1882 

Charles W. Clifford was first president, with William D. 
Howland, treasurer and Byron F. Card, general manager. Dir- 
ectors: — Oliver P. Brightman, Charles W. Clifford, Edmund 
Grinnell, Charles W. Plummer, Edward T. Pierce, William D. 
Howland, and David Wood. The plant, located at the foot of 
North St., was originally a spinning mill with 17,088 spindles 
and finally increased to 40,000. 

The New Bedford Manufacturing Company went into in- 
solvency in 1897, was taken over by its creditors, and a new 
corporation was formed called the New Bedford Spinning 
Company with Edward Kilburn as president, Frank H. Gifford, 
treasurer, Thomas F. Glennon, manager, and the directors in- 
cluded Edward Kilburn, Frank H. Gifford, Gilbert Allen, 
William W. Crapo and Otis N. Pierce. 

This mill continued under that management for two years 
until 1899 when the New England Cotton Yarn Co. was formed 
and this plant together with other yarn mills was purchased by 
the New England Cotton Yarn Company. 

In 1917 it was sold to the Passaic Cotton Mills, later the 
American Cotton Fabric Corporation. In 1924, 300 looms were 
added. In July 192 5 it was sold to Amory Browne & Company 
who sold it in 1932 to Jacob Genensky. 


Inc. 188 8 

William J. Rotch was first president with William D. How- 
land, treasurer, and Byron F. Card, manager, and the following 
directors: — Horatio Hathaway, Thomas B. Tripp, Charles W. 
Clifford, Morgan Rotch, and Charles W. Plummer. The orig- 
inal capital was $3 5 0,000. A few years later the capital was in- 
creased and No. 2 mill erected. The plant, located at the south 
end of Orchard Street on Clark's Cove, became financially in- 
volved in 1897 and was reorganized and continued operations 
under the direction of Andrew G. Pierce, Jr. It continued under 
that management until 1899 when it was sold to the New Eng- 
land Cotton Yarn Company. In 1902 it was re-incorporated 
as the Gosnold Mill. 


Inc. December 1888 

Maximum capital $2,000,000 
spindles 111,012 

looms 3,290 

operatives 1,400 

Horatio Hathaway was first president of the mill, named 
for him, with Joseph F. Knowles, treasurer and manager. Other 
directors were Jonathan Bourne, Sidney W. Knowles, Francis 
Hathaway, William W. Crapo, Thomas E. Brayton. Subsequent 
managers included James E. Stanton, Jr., and Seabury Stanton. 
The plant is located on Cove Street west of the Dartmouth Mill. 
It still operates. 


Incorporated 1888 

Maximum capital $750,000 

spindles 5 9,064 

looms 400 

operatives 600 

Otis N. Pierce was first president of the City, with Ben- 
jamin Wilcox treasurer and manager. Other directors included 
Thomas B. Wilcox, Cyrenius W. Haskins, Thomas H. Knowles, 
Edward Kilburn, J. P. Knowles, Jr., Stephen A. Jenks, William 
H. Parker and Charles Tucker. Subsequent managers included 
Frank S. Wilcox, John B. Strongman, and Samuel F. Winsper. 
Originally a spinning mill, it operated until 1931. In 1931 it 
was sold to the Prospect Realty Co. for liquidation. From 192 5 
to 1931 the City Mfg. Co. operated a cloth mill in Taunton. 


Inc. 1889 

Spindles 120,000 
Operatives 1,000 

Frank R. Hadley was president and treasurer and Lewis E. 
Bentley, manager of the Bennett, with the following directors: 
— Stephen W. Hayes, Antone L. Sylvia, Henry A. Holcomb, W. 
E. Brownell, Joseph A. Beauvais, Charles W. Brownell, John J. 
Hicks and William Lewis. 


Inc. 1892 

Capital $5 00,000 
Spindles 80,000 

Operatives 600 

The Columbia was built by the same group as the Bennett. 
Frank R. Hadley was president and treasurer, with Charles W. 
Brownell, Antone L. Sylvia, William Lewis, William E. Brown- 
ell, Stephen W. Hayes, Henry A. Holcomb, and J. A. Brownell, 
directors. Both the Bennett and the Columbia came to serious 
difficulty, along with some other yarn mills in the city in 1897 
at which time the management of both the Bennett and Colum- 
bia was taken over by James E. Stanton, Jr., who continued the 
operations of the mills until 1899 when they were both pur- 
chased by the New England Cotton Yarn Company. The Ben- 
nett became Depts. 1 and 2 while the Columbia became Depts. 
3 and 4. The mills were located together, on the waterfront 
just north of Coggeshall St. In 1917 the Cotton Yarn Co. sold 
them to a new Corporation, the Fairhaven Mills. 


Inc. 1891 

Maximum capital $1,000,000 
spindles 67,240 

looms 1,876 

operatives 650 

Thomas H. Knowles was first president of the Bristol, with 
Benjamin Wilcox, treasurer and manager. Other directors were 
William H. Parker, Thomas B. Wilcox, Rufus A. Soule and 
Cyrenius W. Haskins. Operations were begun in 1893. Sub- 
sequent managers included Frank Neild, John Neild, Frank S. 
Wilcox, Edward O. Knowles, Charles A. Morrison, and John 
L. Burton. The plant, located at the corner of Coggeshall St. 
and Belleville Ave., was liquidated between 1930 and 1932, 
when the buildings went to the city for taxes. The mill was 
torn down as a civil works project, demolition being completed 
March 24, 193 3. 1,900,000 brick were salvaged from the Bristol, 
and were used to build the High School addition, the municipal 
garage, the Water Department garage, the Buttonwood Park 
recreational center, and an addition to the Vocational School. 
Some of the planking was used to repair the Coggeshall St. bridge. 


Inc. March 3, 1892 

Maximum capital $600,000 

spindles 116,000 

looms 3,512 

operatives 1,200 

Andrew G. Pierce was first president of the Pierce Mfg. 
Corp, with Andrew G. Pierce, Jr. as treasurer and manager and 
Albert R. Pierce, agent. Other directors included Edward T. 
Pierce, Walter Clifford, Lemuel T. Terry, and Morgan Rotch. 
The plant is located at Belleville Ave. and is still (1937) oper- 


Inc. Nov. 5, 1892 

Maximum capital $1,02 5,000 
spindles 15 0,000 

operatives 2,600 

William J. Rotch was first president, with William D. How- 
land, treasurer, and Byron F. Card, Supt. Charles W. Clifford 
and Morgan Rotch were members of the directorate. This 
corporation like several others became financially involved in 
1897 and was operated for the next two years in connection 
with the Howland Mills under the direction of Andrew G. Pierce, 
Jr., treasurer. The plant was sold to the N. E. Cotton Yarn Co. 
in 1899, becoming Depts. 7 and 8. In 1916 sold to the Passaic 
Mills, later the American Cotton Fabric Corp. In 1917 this 
firm constructed a $5 00,000 addition, known as the Penrod Mill, 
with 30,000 spindles. In 1924 the plant was split between the 
Fisk and Goodyear rubber companies, Goodyear taking Depts. 
1, 2 and 3, and leasing part of 4. The plant is located on Or- 
chard St., next to the Gosnold. It still functions. 


Inc. June 17, 189S 

Maximum capital $3,000,000 
spindles 177,608 

looms 4,912 

operatives 2,000 

The Whitman was promoted by the converting firm of 
Harding and Whitman, with Frank R. Hadley of New Bedford 
as first president and Charles C. Diman, treasurer. Directors 
included Abbott P. Smith, Henry A. Holcomb, George E. Briggs, 
Lewis E. Bentley, Edgar Harding, and William Whitman. Sub- 
sequent managers included William A. Congdon, Albert G. 
Mason, Treasurer and Walter B. Hall. At the time of the split 
between the Harding and Whitman interests, the Whitman mill, 
went to Harding. Liquidation of the plant, located on Coffin 
Ave., east of the site of Manomet No. 1 and 2, was begun in 
1931. The corporation was dissolved in 1933, and the buddings 
went to the city for taxes. In 1934 the weave shed was demol- 
ished as an ERA project. 


Inc. Aug. 20, 1895 

Maximum capital $4,600,000 
spindles 200,000 

looms 5,700 

operatives 2,200 

Rufus A. Soule was first president of the Dartmouth, with 
James W. Allen, treasurer, Walter H. Langshaw, manager, and 
the following directors: Abbott P. Smith, Charles E. Riley, Ste- 
phen A. Jenks, Thomas H. Knowles, Gilbert Allen, Thomas B. 
Tripp, Frederic Taber, Nataniel B. Kerr, Clarence A. Cook, 
and Arnold Schaer. Subsequently Mr. Langshaw became presi- 
dent and under his management the mill was very profitable and 
expanded greatly, one addition being known as the Langshaw 
Mill. In March, 193 3, the plant was sold to the Cove Realty Co., 
for liquidation, but in June of that year it was sold again to the 
Powdrell-Dartmouth Corporation. It has been reorganized as 
the Dartmouth Mills, Inc., and is now operating under man- 
agement of F. A. Powdrell and H. H. Pepler. The plant is lo- 
cated at the east end of Cove St., next to the Hathaway. 


Originally incorporated August 17, 1896 

Maximum capital $3,000,000 
spindles 20,3 5 2 

looms 900 

operatives 1,600 

In 1904 Charles D. Owen, Sr. and Charles O. Dexter of 
Providence promoted the rehabilitation of an almost defunct 
concern known as the Beacon Mfg. Co. The building, located 
on County Street at the head of Deane, had been begun by the 
Mr. Pleasant Mfg. Co., which failed before the plant was com- 
pleted. Its successor, the original Beacon, also failed within a 
year after its beginning. Chas. E. Riley was president of this 
venture, with A. de Cort, treasurer. The machinery was sold 
and sent to Paducah, Ky. The property had been vacant for 
six years when it was taken over by the new management. Henry 
Taber was first president. Charles D. Owen was first treasurer, 
and Charles O. Dexter, manager. Under their management the 
mill became famous as manufacturer of Beacon blankets. Mr. 
Owen was succeeded by his son, Charles D. Owen, Jr., who died 
May 24, 1937. The present treasurer is the third Charles D. 

In 192 5 one third of the machinery was moved to a new 
plant at Swannanoa, North Carolina, and in 1933 the removal 
of the remaining machinery from the New Bedford plant was 
begun. The building here is being used at present as the comp- 
any's warehouse. 


Inc. Feb. 14, 1901 

Maximum capital $1,260,000 
spindles 93,000 

looms 2,300 

operatives 900 

Rufus A. Soule, for whom the mill was named, was its first 
president, with Frederick B. Macy, treasurer. Abbot P. Smith, 
Arnold Schaer, Frederic Taber, Charles F. Shaw, and George R. 
Stetson were the original directors. Subsequent managers in- 
cluded Rufus A. Soule, Jr. and Frederic H. McDevitt. The 
plant is located on the waterfront, north of the Fairhaven Mills 
buildings and still operates. 


Inc. April 14, 1902 

Maximum capital $2,000,000 
spindles 12 5,000 

operatives 1,200 

looms 2,800 

William M. Butler was first president of the mill named 
for him, with Nathaniel B. Kerr, manager. Directors included 
Abbott P. Smith, Rufus A. Soule, Matthew R. Hitch, Guy Mur- 
chie, and Frederick B. Macy. Subsequent managers were Walter 
PI. Underdown, Morgan Butler, Joseph W. Bailey and James A. 
Adams. In 1922 the Butler took over the Nemasket mill in 
Taunton. The Butler plant, located on Rodney French Boule- 
vard between Ruth and David Streets, was sold to Associated 
Textiles in 1931. In 1933 it went into receivership, and was 
abandoned to the city in 1935. 


Inc. June 20, 1902 

Maximum capital $3,300,000 
spindles 141,438 

looms 4,940 

operatives 1,700 

Formerly the Howland Mill, the Gosnold was formed with 
Richard M. Saltonstall as president and John C. Rice treas- 
urer. Directors included James E. Stanton, J. Frank Knowles, 
Flenry Endicott, Jr., Joseph Remick, William S. Benedict and 
Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Subsequent managers included James O. 
Thompson, John B. Strohman, Charles M. Holmes, and Allan 
Barrows. The New England Cotton Yarn Co., sold the Gosnold 
to Harding and Tilton in 1916. In 1929 it was reorganized as 
the Gosnold Mills Corporation. The plant is located on Clark's 
Cove at the foot of Orchard St. and still operates. 


Inc. Oct. 3, 1903 

Maximum capital $8,000,000 
spindles 318,480 

looms 64 

operatives 4,5 00 

Edgar Harding was first president of the Manomet, with 
Arnold C. Gardner treasurer. The original board of directors 
included William Whitman, William F. Draper, G. Marston 
Whitin, Charles M. Holmes, George E. Kunhardt, and Charles 
W. Leonard. Subsequent managers included Jesse A. Knight 
and Walter A. Fuller. No. 2 mill was built in 1907-8, No. 3 
in 1916, and No. 4, the largest single spinning unit in the world, 
in 1920-22. The first three mills were built together near the 
Whitman, but No. 4 was built farther west, between Church 
St. and the railroad. Liquidation of the mammoth plant was 
begun in 1927. No. 4, which had never been operated at 
capacity, was sold to the Firestone Rubber Co. in 1927. No. 3 
had been sold to the Nashawena and had been converted to weav- 
ing, in 1925. No. 1 and 2 were sold in 1928 to the Delaware Ray- 
on Co., and became the New Bedford Rayon Co. 


Inc. Aug. 24, 1904 

Maximum capital $2,250,000 
spindles 126,464 

operatives 1,2 5 

A spinning mill, the Kilburn was promoted by the Fales 
& Jenks Machinery Co. and Abbott P. Smith. Edward Kilburn, 
for whom the mill was named, was its first president, with Henry 
L. Tiffany, treasurer and manager, and Andrew Currier, agent. 
Among the original directors were Abbott P. Smith, Matthew 
R. Hitch, Fred W. Easton and William W. Reed. George B. 
Knowles later became manager of the mill. The plant, which 
was enlarged in 1915, is located on Clark's Cove at the beginning 
of Rodney French Boulevard and still operates. 


Inc. March 23, 1906 

Maximum capital $1,200,000 
spindles 64,000 

looms 1,742 

operatives 780 

Russell Grinnell was first president of the Page, with John 
W. Knowles, manager. Directors included Henry H. Crapo, 
Oliver Prescott, Jr., John W. Knowles, Eliot D. Stetson, and 
John H. Clifford. Walter H. Page subsequently became man- 
ager. In 1920 it was purchased by Textile Factors, Inc., a 
Harding-Tilton subsidiary, and was merged with the Gosnold. 
In 1927 it was again sold to Kidder-Peabody interests for half a 
million dollars and was made part of a group of mills under the 
corporate name of United Merchants and Manufacturers, Inc., 
headed by Homer Loring. 16,000 spindles from the Manomet 
were added to the Page in 1928, and 5 00 new automatic looms 
were installed in 1933. Operations were suspended in 1935. 


Inc. April 5, 1906 

Maximum capital $2,000,000 
spindles 70,720 

looms 1,800 

operatives 700 

Frederic Taber was first president of the mill, with Rufus A. 
Soule, Jr. manager. Original directors included Abbot P. Smith, 
Rufus A. Soule, Frederick H. Taber, Frederic B. Macy, William 
C. Hawes, Edmund W. Bourne, and George R. Phillips. Sub- 
sequent managers included John Sullivan, William E. Kern, 
Walter H. Page, Andrew W. Macy, and R. G. Ferguson. As 
originally planned, the spinning department was to have been 
known as the Quansett Mill, but this name was abandoned. The 
Taber purchased the Corr plant in Taunton in 1926. The 
Taunton mill was turned over to a separate corporation, the 
Riverside Corp., in 1932. The Taber received an R. F. C. loan 
in 1934 and petitioned to reorganize under the federal bank- 
ruptcy act April 30, 1937. 


Inc. Nov. 13, 1906 

Maximum capital $4,800,000 
spindles 196,000 

looms 250 

operatives 1,600 

William Whitman was first president of the Nonquit, with 
Leonard C. Lapham, treasurer and Andrew J. Currier, manager. 
Original directors included William Whitman, William F. Drap- 
er, Charles W. Leonard, Richard S. Russell, George M. Whitin, 
Arthur T. Bradlee, and Malcolm Campbell. Subsequent man- 
agers included Fred W. Hayes, and P. Leroy Lamb. In 1929 
the "Spinning" was dropped from the firm name, it being re- 
organized as the Nonquit Mills, with a weaving department. 
Mill No. 1 has been leased to the Edgar Weaving Co., and the 
New Bedford Mfg. Co. 


Inc. June 16, 1909 

Maximum capital $7,S00,000 
spindles 275,000 

looms 6,100 

operatives 2,700 

William Whitman was first president of the Nashawena, 
with William B. Gardner as treasurer. Original directors in- 
cluded George E. Bullard, Robert H. Gardner, George E. Kuhn- 
hardt, Charles W. Leonard, Richard S. Russell, George M. Whitin, 
Malcolm D. Whitman and George A. Draper. Managers included 
John L. Burton and John Kirk. The plant, located on Belleville 
Avenue north of Manomet Nos. 1 and 2, included the largest 
weave shed in the world. Additions were built in 1916, and 1920- 
22. In 192 5 the Nashawena purchased and enlarged Manomet 
No. 3, converting it to weaving. This building, known as B 
plant, was sold to General Cotton in 1927. The Nashawena 
closed down in July, 1935. Part of the plant was reopened in 
January, 1937. 


Inc. April 13, 1909 

Maximum capital $1,816,000 
spindles 73,000 

looms 1,75 

operatives 680 

William M. Butler was first president of this mill, and 
Walter H. Underdown, manager. Original directors included 
Abbott P. Smith, William C. Hawes, and Nathaniel B. Kerr. 
With the Butler, the N. B. Cotton Mills became part of Asso- 
ciated Textiles in 1929, which has since been liquidated. 


Inc. May 3, 1909 

John C. Anderson was first president of this mill, with 
Charles S. Kelley, Charles S. Kelley, Jr. and Matthew R. Hitch 
members of the board of directors. With a capital of $18,100, 
the concern had 2,400 spindles and employed 18 men. It was 
dissolved in 1911. 


Inc. May 18, 1909 

Maximum capital $1,200,000 
spindles 69, 552 

operatives 1,000 

Charles L. Harding was first president with Charles M. 
Holmes, for whom the mill was named, as manager. The orig- 
inal board of directors included Earnest A. Wheaton, J. Henry 
Herring, Stephen W. Hayes, E. Russell Richardson, William L. 
Mauran and William A. Congdon. Subsequent managers in- 
cluded Daniel R. Weeden and Joseph D. Murray. In January, 
1934 the Holmes was sold to the Kendall Corporation for $60,- 
000 and two years' back taxes. 75 looms were added, since 
increased to 900. 


Inc. June 29, 1909 

Maximum capital $700,000 

spindles 5 3,000 

looms 1,200 

operatives 5 00 

Andrew G. Pierce, Jr. was original president of this mill, 
with Edward T. Pierce, treasurer and Albert R. Pierce, manager. 
After a considerable shut-down, the mill was reopened March 1, 
1937, under the management of Fred W. Steele. 


Inc. March 10, 1910 

Maximum capital $1,200,000 
spindles 62,600 

looms 1,600 

operatives 1,000 

John Neild was first president of the mill, with Joseph W. 
Allen, treasurer. Original directors included Charles M. Cole, 
Frederic H. Taber, Rufus A. Soule, Frank Croacher, F. William 
Oesting, and Frank S. Wilcox. Frank I. Neild later took over 
the management. The plant was enlarged in 1925, when an 
addition was made to the weave shed. It is still operating. 


Inc. April 2, 1910 

Maximum capital $2,306,000 
spindles 80,000 

operatives 900 

William M. Butler was first president of the Quisset, with 
Thomas F. Glennon, agent and Edward H. Cook, treasurer. 
Abbott P. Smith, Frederic Taber and Frank J. Hale were also 
directors. Operations were begun in 1912. The plant was later 
converted to include rayon spinning. It is still operating. 


Inc. July 27, 1910 

Maximum capital $2,296,900 
spindles 5 6,164 

looms 1,770 

operatives 1,200 

The Booth, named for its first manager, George H. 
Booth, was promoted in part by the Crompton & Knowles 
Loom Works and the H. & B. American Machine Co. George 
S. Homer was first president, with Frederic R. Brown, treasurer, 
and directors including George H. Booth, William L. Mauren, 
Oliver F. Brown, T. S. Carpenter, C. H. Hutchins, and Charles 
E. Riley, who succeeded Mr. Homer as president. Subsequent 
managers included Fred W. Steele, Frank I. Neild, Joseph W. 
Bailey, Earl C. Miller, Edgar F. Taber, and Allen G. Shaw. The 
plant is located on Rodney French Boulevard, south of the 
Holmes. Still operating. 


Inc. June 3, 1910 

Maximum capital $3,817,000 
spindles 200,000 

looms 1,000 

operatives 2,000 

The mill was named for Arthur R. Sharp, at first treas- 
urer and later president. First president was Joseph T. Kenney. 
Directors included William H. Bent, Charles P. Curtis, Grank 
Brewster and I. W. Curtis. Subsequent managers included Rob- 
ert Schofield, I. W. Curtis, and Frank C. Sawtell. A second 
mill was erected in 1916-17, and the first looms were installed 
in 1921. Operations were stopped in 1928, machinery being 
auctioned in June, 1929. Final liquidation came in 1937, when 
the buildings were purchased by Rockdale Mills, Inc. "for manu- 
facturing purposes" and razed. 


014 077 335 9 # 


Inc. Feb. 3, 1917 

Maximum capital $3,500,000 
spindles 209,000 

operatives 3,000 

Charles L. Harding was first president, with James Thom- 
son, manager. Other directors were Stephen W. Hayes, Charles 
M. Holmes, Nathaniel F. Ayer, C. Minot Weld, H. A. Wyman, 
Edward Burbeck, and Edward A. Taft. The plant was pur- 
chased from the N. E. Cotton Yarn Co., consisting of the old 
Bennett and Columbia mills. Subsequent managers included 
Charles M. Holmes, Edgar F. Taber and Ernest R. Haswell. 
The mill was not successful, first step in dissolution being the 
formation of the Pemaquid mill in 1924. Consisting of Dept. 3 
(formerly no. 1 Columbia) the Pemaquid had a nominal capital 
of $1,050,000 and 33,516 spindles, and was converted to weaving 
by installation of 45 6 looms. Mr. Harding was president, Al- 
bert G. Mason, treasurer, and Walter B. Hall, agent. Frederic 
Thomas later succeeded Mr. Mason. In 1932 the Pemaquid was 
purchased and liquidated By Jerome A. Newman, acting for 
General Cotton. 

The Fairhaven was sold at auction in 1930, to Frederic W. 
Greene of Newport. Subsequently the Fairhaven Real Estate 
Co. was formed, formed preferred stockholders recieving com- 
mon stock. Since then, the Fairhaven buildings have been rented 
to a number of small enterprises, including silk manufacturers, 
clothing companies and a pocket-book concern. 


014 077 335 9 


pH 83 

Mill Run FOS-2193